Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Chicken is Old and Boring

Dear Tricia, I'm bored with chicken.  I always grill or roast it and I need something new that's hopefully not too difficult for me to ruin dinner.

Chicken can be boring- I totally get it.  I have a couple of ideas to save you from your mundane poultry lifestyle, and luckily the first one I've already covered in my NYC Tacos, Texas Style post from a while ago.  These are great because you can make a big batch and just heat it up as you need it, and it's really delicious when you're drunk. All you need to do is stock your spice cabinet with a few things that will serve you well in your taco making future.

My second glorious idea is actually really simple but it can pass as kind of gourmet if you're trying to impress someone.  (Or just yourself, that's cool too.)  You take a chicken breast (skin on or skin off, its up to you) and sit it on a cutting board in front of you with a sharp paring knife. 
 That's this little one:

 Not this one:

So if you're right handed, you put your left hand on top of the chicken breast and hold the knife in your right hand.  Holding the knife parallel to the counter (or cutting board, or whatever you're cutting on top of) take the knife and cut a pocket along the side of the chicken.  Cut as far over to the other side of the chicken without cutting that side open.   What you're trying to do is make a safe little house to stuff some awesome fillings into without them leaking out of the sides.

Once you've cut a pocket into the chicken, season both sides with salt and pepper.  Now let's talk fillings options.  You want to pick things that aren't messy.  If you're going to use cheese, that's great, just make sure that you stuff the cheese towards the side that's closed, not the side you cut into.  This way the cheese doesn't leak out and make a mess.  We're going for non-messy here, Messy McMesserstein.  Here's some ideas, but you can get as crazy as you want.  You know me- I'm all about encouraging you to screw around in the kitchen.  Have some fun you rock star.

Bacon (cooked), pecans and blue cheese
Pepperoni and mozzarella
Roasted red peppers and pesto
Sausage (If you're using raw sausage, make sure it's cooked all the way through before you serve the chicken.  We'll get to that in a sec.)
Olives and artichoke hearts
Spanish Rice and pumpkin seeds
Gummy bears
Just seeing if you're paying attention
Mushrooms and onions

Once you've got your selected stuffing, (and you don't need a whole lot, just a few tablespoons per chicken breast) just put it inside the chicken.  Get as much as you can in there without it just falling out and making a mess.  And remember, if you're using cheese, stuff it in first so it's up against the closed side. 

Then get your oven heated to 400 degrees.  Have a pan ready and get it hot over medium high heat.  That means if the numbers on the knob go from 1-10, it should be at a 7.  When the pan is hot, pour about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and let that heat up for a good 10-15 seconds.  Then put your chicken breasts in the pan.  Did you hear the chicken start to sizzle?  Good, that means your pan was hot enough.  Were your chickens silent?  Then your pan wasn't hot, and that's not going to ruin dinner, but it won't give your chicken a really pretty brown color.  Next time don't be afraid to crank up the heat, ok?  Don't pussyfoot around here.

Cook the chicken on one side until it's halfway done.  How can you tell?  Well look a the side of the chicken where you cut into.  The part that's still kind of translucent and pink is the raw part.  The white part is cooked.  When it's half white and half pink, it's half done.  Then you flip the chicken over on its other side.  Give it about 2-3 more minutes here.  Then put it on a cookie sheet or sheet pan and put it in the oven.  Even better if you can have the cookie sheet already hot, inside the oven to accelerate the process. The whole process on top of the stove should take you 8 minutes tops, unless you're cooking some monster huge chicken breasts.  What are they feeding those chickens?!

You're going to let the chicken finish cooking in the oven because I've found this makes the chicken more tender and juicy, plus it lets you have a minute to make a cocktail.  Bonus.  The chicken should be done within 10 minutes.  Again, just make sure there aren't any pink parts.  And if you've stuffed the chicken with raw sausage, the chicken is done with the sausage is completely cooked.  Be really careful with that.  No one likes a raw sausage surprise.

After the chicken is done, pull it out of the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before you serve it.  This keeps all of the juices inside the chicken, and not leaking all over your plate.   That's tip three for keeping things non messy. 

Are you ready to try this one at home?  Go have fun and send me your photos and comments.  Easy as pie, right? Easy as chicken pot pie.

No comments: